Are you sure you want to delete?

I accidentally deleted a chat conversation with a seller on OLX and it happened with no warning. Aargh!  Instead of making this a rant, I will talk about how to avoid such usability mistakes and empathize with the end users.

When you choose to delete something, the system verifies your choice by asking you to validate the decision. The purpose of validation is to ensure that the irreversible loss of information or data should not be of grave consequence for the user.
There are several instances in our daily digital lives that we end up deleting stuff. Emails immediately come to mind. Then, there are chat messages, SMSes, notifications, documents and many more.

On desktop OS, when we press delete after selecting a file, the system asks us to verify our decision to delete. But when we drag a file on a recycle bin, it does not. Why so? Its simple, you are making an effort to delete something by selecting it, dragging it to the destination and then releasing it on the recycle bin icon. You have to be pretty sure you want to delete to be doing that. On the other hand, the delete button can be accidentally pressed too. On top of it, even after you delete, you get one more chance to salvage the deleted item before you Empty out the recycle bin.

Safety Net
Irrespective of whether you verify a user action or not, you can always provide the user an option to revert his/her decision later. Even if the later is limited by time and not a permanent option.



Gmail provides options to Undo in multiple delete scenarios.

Snack-bar notifications allow us to communicate with the user the action applied as well as an alternative CTA to revert back the decision. The notification style is non obstructive in nature and hence will not leave any unpleasant experience when carrying out daily repetitive tasks.

This  brings us to the basic question, when do we validate?

  • Can the user invoke delete action accidentally? If yes, verify action.
  • Can the action be undone? If no, verify action.
  • Is the action repetitive (e.g removal of notifications)?
    • If its not critical, do not verify.
    • If you are not sure, give use a chance to undo it, but in a non obstructive manner. (like a snack bar notification with an option to ‘Undo’). These alternatives are like a limited time offer. J

So please, next time, have some empathy for the users and save them from the horror of accidental data loss.


How to get graphic designers excited about your wireframes

How to get designers excited about your wireframes

How to get designers excited about your wireframes

As a usability or user experience architect one is very passionate about their output, and why not. You have spent long hours banging your head trying to understand requirements, getting stakeholders excited and convincing your model to the business. When it comes to getting your design implemented, that’s when you have a visual designer at hand who is brought in to develop your vision into reality.

Then there are others who involve user experience designers in this process and have then get involved at a certain stage of development so as to have them limber up to the main event of creating the user interface. I am not drawing any conclusions here but I do have an opinion that a designer is a designer. And if he is designing a website or an application, he is good at his game. To create fantastic visual interpretation of the user interface. Graphic designers have a special significance in a creative team because they have the tendency to think out of the box. I like that attribute to be associated and be an asset in a product development team.

Let me start by underlining the importance of good graphic designers –

  • They thrive on challenges
  • They always think out of the box
  • They are not limited by conformity
  • They know their game, and goal is to create the wow factor with attention to detailing
  • Always listening, always curious

A good designer would always be a good learner. If you trace all the design evolution till date in software and web, designers have been always been there tinkering with the latest in technology and business and software solutions. They have always been working hand in hand with core teams and absorbing skills that complimented their own core skills. So, when it comes to user experience, I see no different situation.

Here are some points one which I follow when involving a designer in a project. I have created this list based on my personal experience with them as a user experience professional.

  • Give them an orientation about them about the software or product. Allow them to absorb and understand the product. They will feel a lot more engaged with their work.
  • Identify and share challenges with them. Engage them by taking critical inputs or solutions from them. They will feel as an important part of the team.
  • Engage them early, even if their work is not yet taken off in the project time line. It gives them some breathing space to creatively limber and be prepared with ideas and thoughts that they can bring in on a tight schedule.
  • If your disagree with their designs, do not criticize them. Instead challenge their solution by giving your counter argument on why it would not work. No one appreciates negative criticism but everyone respects and accepts rational debates.
  • Sometimes you need to cut a slack and focus on the critical issues. Designers tend to get bogged down by creative issues that you might not find critical. Instead of telling them to hurry things up, your should assist them plan design tasks based on criticality.
  • Balance your appreciation with criticism. Excess of both are not good for our product. You need to know when to balance things by adding the right amount. This is applicable even when things are going in the extreme ends (good or bad i,e).
  • Even if its not their concern, it sometimes feels good to share some insights with them to address certain issues. And vica versa, you should take inputs from them and if possible consider its application, and perhaps apply them. Its no rocket science that most of the times, if not always, experience teaches is more than books do.
  • Given them responsibilities and watch them become responsible. I am yet to see a designer who has not taken his responsibility seriously. They may not be good at taking big ones but when set in small sets, they tend to do wonders.
  • Acknowledge their contribution to the larger group in your organisation. They will appreciate it and also take pride in their work.

I guess the last point holds true for all of us too, doesn’t it?

[Image copyright:]

Best Practices, When Collecting User’s Contact Number

How to collect phone numbers

We all encounter online forms or information boxes where we are asked to fill in our phone numbers. Its a small and yet crucial piece of information for the business. And most importantly, for the user who would be sharing his/her most critical and private information with you.

As a business you need to ensure that the user provides you the information without hesitation and inconvenience. Any doubt in the users mind and he/she would totally avoid making that commitment. So what is one suppose to do? Here, I would like to focus only on the user interface aspect of the process. Two important aspects of this activity are crucial – ease of user and a good experience.

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Google Buzz fumbles on usability

I expected Google to do well in providing intuitive applications but was surprised  when Buzz was released. A certain function had failed at multiple levels and that was somewhat shocking for what Buzz is intended to do.

I was pleasantly surprised by the new icon added in my gmail screen. Didn’t know what exactly google was offering me despite the hint of social networking with other gmail account holders on my Gmail’s e-mail application. But it was refreshing for a change. I added a few of a few new posts including comments, pictures from Flickr, google reader list and more. And then I notices something peculiar at the bottom of the screen. There was a link that said ‘load more…’. What was it suppose to load and what more was installed for me?

Google Buzz loading error

Google Buzz loading error

Turned out, it was a link to access older posts and archives. A way to surf through all the older posts and messages on your buzz screen. But then, i had no previous posts. And to add to my confusion, on clicking the links (‘load more …), out of curiosity, it changed to ‘loading …’ … but what?

So here are the usability concerns with the ‘load more …’ function.

  • It does not provide clarity on what to load.
  • The function is available irrespective of the context.
  • It does not provide system feedback on unavailability of any more data and stays in a continuous suspended state of ‘loading …’